Landmark Colors:  The Painted Desert, Arizona

Landmark Colors: The Painted Desert, Arizona

The Painted Desert stretches itself across Arizona from the Grand Canyon to the Petrified Forest, and runs along and to the north of the Little Colorado and the Puerco Rivers. Although the Navajo and the Hopi people have lived in this area for one thousand years at least, the name 'Painted Desert' was given by the Spaniards because of its beautifully colored strata.

Colorful Bands

painted desert clay layers

The colors of the desert are layers upon layers of strata comprised of minerals and organic decaying material, both plants and animals. These hardened dunes, mesas, and buttes can be found through out the badlands, and are distinct because of their bold bands of red, orange, yellow, and grey. Even more dramatic, sunrise and sunrise paint the desert even bolder with glowing reds and oranges, and twilight seizes the strata with its deep blues.

As Old as the Trees

The Painted Desert, outside of its strata, carries ancient stories still. Millions of years old, the Petrified Forest dates its coniferous trees back to the Triassic Era. An assortment of prehistoric plants and animals have been discovered, including dinosaur tracks and evidence of early human inhabitation.

petrified forest logs

A majority of the region is only accessible by foot or by unpaved roads, although highways do cut through portions of the park. The desert continues to add to its colors with its blowing red dust and being well kept under national park protection.

Painted Desert Color Palette Inspiration

Painted DesertPetrified Stump

Neighboring Landmark: The Grand Canyon

grand_canyon.jpgGrand Canyon National Park, a World Heritage Site, encompasses 1,218,375 acres and lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona. The land is semi-arid and consists of raised plateaus and structural basins typical of the southwestern United States. Drainage systems have cut deeply through the rock, forming numerous steep-walled canyons. Forests are found at higher elevations while the lower elevations are comprised of a series of desert basins.
Grand Canyon

What Are Your Local Landmark Colors?

Create a palette to share with us the colors of wonderful places where you live, or simply give suggestions of places you'd like to see us cover in a future landmark colors post.

Showing 1 - 7 of 7 Comments
Colors of New York City:

Brownstones, the Statue of Liberty, concrete and steel, and yellow taxis.

Colors of NYC
NYC, Flushing Meadow Park , Where the US OPEN takes place

Well, this is an awesome spot I've been to a number of times in Eastern Washington. It is called Hole in the Ground. It is a place where a stream ties two lakes, Rock Lake, and Bonnie Lake together. My family spent much time at both. Mostly Rock Lake but I have explored BonnieLake with friends and family as an adult. I think the only way you can get to Bonnie Lake is to paddle (or use a small boat with a small motor) up the stream. It may be possible to hike in along the stream as well. But, I am not sure you could get all the way in as their are high basalt cliffs that make up the "frame" of the lake. About 1/3 of the way up the lake is an island formed from a big Mica rock. It is very cool.

hole in the ground

Having lived in Arizona for 18 months I can confirm that it does have some beautiful colors and wonderful sunsets... but Tucson can be a dirty place sometimes, so here is my palette honoring my time is dirty ol' Tucson.
Tucson Arizona
what about phoenix?

cathedral rock

i live in the
black swamp

black swamp story

black swamp

it used to be a swamp but its farmland now. except when it rains and becomes a swamp again! basements beware!

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